Ferrari wants to pit real and virtual racers against each other on the same track


Ferrari hopes to use augmented reality to allow gamers and racers to compete against each other.

A new patent lodged with the United States Patent and Trademark Office proposes a scheme that allows a driver on track to race against a rival at home on a gaming console or PC.

In the real car the driver would have a special “interface” in the windshield that allows a virtual race car to be superimposed in their view. Ferrari even includes the mirrors in its proposal so that you can see your digital rival chasing you. An alternative option would be a helmet with augmented reality projection built-in. Back at home the gamer would be able to see the position of the real car digitally represented as in any racing game. In the event that the virtual and real vehicles should have a coming together the driver of the real car would receive haptic feedback through the steering or a seat actuator.

Ferrari doesn’t appear to envisage a full grid of virtual and real racers dicing for position, rather the system has been designed to make track days more exciting for amateurs. Throwing augmented reality into the mix would give a driver on track an element of competition without significantly increasing the risk. It could also prove to be a handy driver coaching tool, with drivers in the real world learning from remote instructors or gamers picking up tips from professionals in a real car.

In order to make the racing as smooth as possible a solid 5G or even 6G mobile internet connection would be required with a latency of under 500 milliseconds, says Ferrari, but the rest of the technology is already available.

Ferrari’s patent filing also notes that the system could further advance autonomous driving as it “implements a merging between real world and virtual world in order to test self-driving cars or have self-driving cars race against each other.”

Ferrari virtual racing patent
Ferrari via United States Patent and Trademark Office
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    Coaching tool, training tool, cost effective track days yes. Really cool idea. Real racing for points though? I don’t know. Think about drafting strategy… How do you, as a real car, catch the sim driver. How do you judge a “crowded” corner when it’s actually wide open? I spose you won’t know it is though.. with the augmented realty. But then there, how is real racing.. with that helmet on going to look/feel. So many questions. So many possible scenarios here. Would make for very cool spectating though.

    It’s really surprising to think someone would even suggest interjecting such a dangerous distraction for someone driving in a race. Driving at high speeds in hazardous situations that occur in racing does not need such needless distractions. Even if just confined to “track days”, it just adds to danger to those on the track. Surely reasonable people can agree this is not needed.

    How is this a distraction? If the car was physically present, you’d need to pay attention to it. That the car is only virtually present means you pay the same level of attention but do not suffer the real-world consequences of a mistake. I think you’ve got it backward. This is actually a better way for amateurs to improve their skills without the danger of colliding with other drivers.

    This is pretty cool. One thing that’s always had me hesitate was the idea of taking out a six-figure car on the track and getting hit by some guy in a beater car who doesn’t know what he’s doing. This would not be covered by regular auto insurance and track insurance is very expensive and typically has high deductibles that leave the owner shouldering the majority (if not all) of the repair bill unless the damage is major or a total loss.

    Add in that the virtual driver is a pro that I could learn from? I’d be all for it. Being able to complete a follow lap behind a pro driver is a great way to get some experience.

    It’s an interesting idea but sim racing and on track racing are different experiences and as described you can miss things in the sim you would catch in the real world.

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